Keady in

MIKE KOREEN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:24 AM ET

At the tender age of 69, Gene Keady is ready to enter a brave new world.

The legendary Purdue basketball coach is expected to arrive in Toronto tonight to begin his job as an assistant or consultant to Raptors coach Sam Mitchell.

While the Raptors haven't confirmed the move, it should be announced within a day or so.

"When (special advisor) Wayne Embry called, I thought it would be a great challenge," Keady, who retired after his 25th season at Purdue last season, said in a telephone interview yesterday.

"I've never gone to an NBA job. I've never had an easy job, I've never had a lot of talent, I've never had an easy schedule. You're not able to win without doing a lot of work ... This situation doesn't frighten me."

Nor should it. When Keady, 69, arrives in Toronto, he will bring some valuable experience and a fondness for Mitchell and the players.

The 25-year coach of Purdue, who retired after last season, spent a weekend with the team last month and then told the Raptors he'd mull over an offer from Embry to join the team during a Caribbean cruise with his wife, Pat.

With the blessings of his wife, Keady couldn't resist a chance to make the jump to the professional ranks.

"I like Sam and I like the fact he will listen to a guy who has never played in the NBA and never coached in the NBA," Keady said. "They're looking for good input and I really think they are respectful."

It's not like Keady is new to tough times. Just last season, his team finished 7-20.

"Last year was pitiful," he said. "It was the worst season ever."

But with 22 NCAA tournament appearances in 25 seasons, Keady knows a thing or two about winning.

He is a six-time national coach of the year at the NCAA level, so he's used to helping young players develop their games. With three rookies in their lineup, the Raptors might just be a perfect fit for Keady, who will begin looking for a place to live in Toronto next week.

"When I came up there and visited, I really liked what I saw," Keady said. "When Wayne Embry calls, you listen. I really like the people around the program and I thought I wanted to be a part of it."


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